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Villains' Lorebook (2e)

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It's Christmas in July! From now through July 31st, Santa has marked down this digital title by 25%! For more values, visit our Christmas in July sale page.

Evil takes many forms in the lands of Faer?n. This book brings all of them out of the darkness and into the light.

These are the characters who have tested the mettle of the foremost heroes of the FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign world. They spread chaos and death wherever they venture, ruining whatever they touch. And they're coming to your campaign!

Inside this companion volume to Heroes' Lorebook, you'll find complete game statistics and descriptions for a host of dastardly rogues, most of whom have never been described in a game accessory before, including:

  • Artemis Entreri, the nemesis of Drizzt Do'Urden.
  • Fzoul Chembryl, high priest of Iyachtu Xvim.
  • Szass Tam, Zulkir of Necromancy in the Red Wizards of Thay.
  • The Xanathar, the beholder crimelord of Waterdeep.
  • Halaster Blackcloak, the mad master of Undermountain.

This "Who's Who" of the evildoers of the Realms is a valuable addition to any campaign.

Product History

Villains' Lorebook (1998), by Dale Donovan, is an NPC and monster sourcebook for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in July 1998.

About the Cover. Like Heroes' Lorebook (1996), the Villains' Lorebook depicts a trio of figures on the cover. They're Zrie Prakis from Azure Bonds (1988), Fzoul Chembryl of Zhentil Keep, and Deirdre Kendrick from the Moonshae Trilogy (1987-1989).

Origins (I): More Lore. Not long before the downfall of TSR, the company published Heroes' Lorebook (1996), a sourcebook detailing the protagonists of the Forgotten Realms novels. Two years later, Dale Donovan was back with a new sourcebook focusing on the antagonists. There was one other difference between the two books: where Heroes' Lorebook attempted to detail all the heroes of the Realms' novels, Villains' Lorebook instead concentrated on "the best" of fiction's villains. (That's only half of the book; it contains lots of monsters and organizations too.)

Origins (II): More Adversaries. TSR had previously published books of NPCs for players to fight in The Rogues Gallery (1980) and Rogues' Gallery (1992), but those were primarily books of stats. Villains' Lorebook was something of an innovation because it offered fully defined villains to fight. It was a new take on a monster's manual, hewing much closer to the Enemies (1981) books of super-hero games like Champions (1981) than to traditional fantasy monster books. This trend would grow in the 3e era (2000-2008), when characters became much more complex.

Origins (III): More Novel. TSR started producing fiction for the Forgotten Realms in 1987; by the time Heroes' Lorebook was published, there had been nearly 70 novels and anthologies. The two years that followed were hectic due to TSR's acquisition by Wizards of the Coast. Several novels were canceled including "Murder in Ravens Bluff", "Elminster in Myth Drannor" and "Rise of the Blades". However 1998's fiction publication was the strongest ever, thanks to a backlog of delayed TSR publications resulting in almost 20 Forgotten Realms books hitting the fiction shelves that year(!). Things would die down a bit after that, but afterward Wizards would regularly release 10 fiction books a year, a number that TSR only managed in its last few years.

Monsters of Note. Many of the monsters of Villains' Lorebook aren't actually new. Some originated in roleplaying sourcebooks, particularly Spellbound (1995), while others debuted in the Spellfire card game (1994-1997). Finally, there are some that originated in novels, but had already appeared in Monstrous Compendiums. Nonetheless, they were all gathered here (along with a few actual originals).

The monsters debuting in novels may be the most historically notable:

  • The Moonshae Trilogy.Kazgaroth, The Blood Riders
  • The Finder's Stone Trilogy.Kalmari, Mistinarperadnacles Hai Draco (red dragon)
  • The Pool Novels.Tyranthraxus
  • The Harpers Novels.
    • The Parched Sea (#1). Asabis
    • Red Magic (#3). Darkenbeast
    • The Ring of Winter (#5). Pteramen
    • The Shadowking Novels (#6, #11). Shadevari
    • Soldiers of Ice (#7). Vreesar 
  • The Icewind Dale Trilogy. Errtu
  • The Twilight Giants. Ice Spire Ogres
  • The Shadows of the Avatar Trilogy. Shadowmasters
  • The Netheril Trilogy. Phaerimm

Of these, the kalmari seem the most popular, perhaps because they'd already appeared in a few previous sourcebooks.

NPCs of Note. The villainous NPCs of Villains' Lorebook are the best-of-the-best from the Forgotten Realms novels:

  • The Moonshae Trilogy. Cyndre, Hobarth
    • The Druidhome Trilogy. Deirdre Kendrick
  • The Icewind Dale Trilogy. Artemis Entreri, Dendybar the Mottled
    • The Legacy of Drizzt. Jarlaxle
  • The Finder's Stone Trilogy. Cassana, Flattery Wyvernspur, The Mouth of Moander, Zrie Prakis
    • Masquerades. Victor Dhostar
  • Prince of Lies. Fzoul Chembryl
  • The Cleric Quintet. Aballister Bonaduce, Ghost, Kierkan Rufo
  • The Harpers Novels.
    • Red Magic (#3). Maligor the Zulkir of Alteration, Szass Tam the Zulkir of Necromancy
    • The Ring of Winter (#5). Kaverin Ebonhand
    • The Shadowking Novels (#6, #11). Lord Cutter of Iriaebor
  • Song & Swords. Elaith "The Serpent" Craulnober, Kymil Nimesin
    • King Pinch (#1). King Manferic III
    • War in Tethyr (#2). Baron Faneuil Hardisty
    • Escape from Undermountain (#3). Halaster Blackcloak

A number of additional characters originated in Ruins of Zhentil Keep (1995), which suggests that the Keep wasn't yet well developed in the novels!

NPCs of Note: Organizations. Finally, Villains' Lorebook also features organizations. The Cult of the Dragon, the Drow of Menzoberranzan, the Red Wizards of Thay, and the Zhentarim were all very well-known groups that had each already featured in their own sourcebook. However other organizations originating from novels were less well known:

  • The Harpers Novels.
    • The Night Parade (#4). The Night Parade
  • Song & Swords. Knights of the Shield
  • Elminster: The Making of a Mage. The Magelords of Athalantar
  • Starlight & Shadows. The Kraken Society

About the Creators. Donovan was an author and editor at TSR and Wizards in the late '90s and early '00s. He'd previously contributed to Heroes' Lorebook (1996) and in 1998 would also author Empires of the Shining Sea (1998) and For Duty and Deity (1998) for the Realms.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Dagger A July 17, 2017 5:14 pm UTC
It is the same, but not sure of the scan quality.
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George K March 24, 2017 9:40 pm UTC
Is the print on demand version the same as the original release?
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Author(s)
Pages
160
Edition
1.0
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TSR 9552
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File Last Updated:
November 09, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on March 14, 2017.